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Advocating for Patient Care & Physical Therapy

Like all physical therapists, Corey Kuipers loves to help others. He cares deeply for our profession and wants to ensure a bright future for his patients. One of the best ways he’s found to achieve this is through advocacy – by ensuring the voices of his patients are heard on Capitol Hill.

Corey is a physical therapist in our Coopersville clinic. He has a contagious passion for raising awareness about the role of physical therapy, the value physical therapy brings to health care, and the quality of care that patients receive. In 2017 he went to Washington, D.C and Lansing, MI., to advocate on behalf of our profession and the patients we serve. We sat down with Corey to talk about his experience, and how he initially became interested in the advocacy portion of our profession.

Advocating for Patient Care & Physical TherapyCorey (second from left) is pictured on Capitol Hill

Why were you initially drawn to the advocacy side of physical therapy?
I grew up in politics. My dad served as both a State Representative and State Senator in Michigan so I learned from a young age that if you want something, you have to advocate for it and speak with those who can elicit these changes. Serving in a liaison role for Northern Physical Therapy has been a great opportunity to collaborate with policy makers in multiple efforts to advocate for policy changes that seek to address both the immediate and long-term needs of our profession. These issues include payment reform, innovative healthcare delivery, improved access to care for patients and consumers, advancement in quality initiatives, and demonstration of the benefits of physical therapy.

Advocating for Patient Care & Physical TherapyCorey, who is pictured here with members of the APTA, is also is a member of the MPTA Legislative committee

What brought you to Capitol Hill to advocate on our behalf?
Physical therapy often gets overlooked, or even forgotten about, by the federal and local branches of government. This is, in large part, due to the fact that they don’t know the services we provide. In order for our profession to thrive and allow patients easy access to PT, we all need to advocate policy makers, consumers and payers on the value and integrity of physical therapy. We need to be a voice to our patients and our communities. With the ongoing opioid epidemic, this is our time to advocate for safe alternatives to pain relief.

Advocating for Patient Care & Physical TherapyCorey (far right) was one of five from the state of Michigan that attended the Federal Forum in Washington, D.C.. He visited the offices of two United States Senators and 14 United States Representatives. They discussed issues surrounding the Repeal of the Medicare Therapy cap for outpatient services, Sports Medicine Licensure clarity act, and the SAFE PLAY act and youth concussions.

 

What advice do you have for those who may want to advocate to their legislators but don’t know where to start?
When people hear about advocacy, especially when it comes to advocating to those in the government, they tend to shy away for fear that they lack knowledge on certain issues, or fear of being looked down upon. The reality is, legislators are human, and are seeking to learn more about issues that are important to you, their constituents. When it comes down to it, they need you to be happy. They are going to listen to what you have to say because they want your support. At the end of the day, legislators are people, just like you and me.

Advocating for Patient Care & Physical TherapyCorey (left) is pictured with members of the APTA

How would you like to expand on advocating in the future?
I would like to continue to stay involved with the MPTA and attend advocacy events such as state advocacy day in Lansing, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfasts, and the Federal Advocacy Forum. I believe it’s important to develop a rapport with these legislators and the more they trust you the more likely they are to support your cause. I’m happy to advocate for my profession and would like to encourage fellow physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to become involved in advocating for our patients as well.

West Michigan Legislative Luncheon
In addition to the wonderful work that Corey is doing, Northern Physical Therapy is the premier sponsor for the annual Legislative Luncheon, which is hosted by the Coopersville Chamber of Commerce. This year’s luncheon will take place on Monday, June 19, 2018.

 

 

Northern Physical Therapy is a Grand Rapids Physical Therapy based clinic with locations in Muskegon, Wayland, Lowell, and the surrounding areas. Our goal is to help clients feel great whether they’re suffering from back pain or a sports injury. We offer free consultations at each of our clinics. You don’t have to live with pain!

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Advocating for Patient Care & Physical Therapy

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

 “I started as a laborer working with my hands. I transformed into a craftsman working with my hands and my mind. I ultimately evolved into an occupational therapist working with my hands, my mind, and my heart.” David Blanchard, Occupational Therapist

David Blanchard’s career path ended up taking a turn that he never expected. As a student in Western Michigan University’s (WMU) construction management program, David’s goal was to work with his father’s residential construction company. He enjoyed working with clients by building and renovating their dream homes so after taking some time to hone his building skills, he started a company of his own. While he really enjoyed the client side of the work, it wasn’t long before he realized that long hours in the field were followed by long hours preparing estimates and drumming up the next job.
From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

David’s daughters love the play house he built for them

Around 2008, David decided he was ready for a change so he began exploring different options by shadowing and volunteering whenever he could. His ultimate goal was to find a career that would create security for his growing family and allow him to find satisfaction through helping others.  This path led him to occupational therapy, which intrigued him because of the unique tools used, the broad areas of care provided, and level of personal connection that is required.

Going back to school when you have a family to support isn’t always the easiest decision. During his exploration and quest to become an occupational therapist, David paid bills by working as a production worker/truck driver at a feed mill, a truck driver for a local fertilizer plant, someone who provided consumer care for developmentally disabled children, and eventually a gym aid for Northern.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational TherapistWhen David completed his degree in Interdisciplinary Health Services with a minor in holistic health he entered WMU’s occupational therapy program. During his time there he found many successful hand therapists that presented hand therapy in a way that intrigued him even further. David found great fulfillment in the ability to fix a person’s hand, as he feels the hand contributes to the most personal aspects of an individual’s life. To be able to help people once again perform the activities they love is a rewarding process for him.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

Upon graduation we gladly hired David as an occupational therapist where he works with patients who have suffered injury to, or are feeling pain in their hands. He’s also been a great asset to our Work Services team because he can relate to people that are often in positions that he has worked.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational TherapistWhile David admits that his path has not been simple, easy, or the most direct, he feels that it has allowed him the ability to relate to and empathize with his clients. David started as a laborer working with his hands. He transformed into a craftsman working with his hands and his mind. He ultimately evolved into an occupational therapist working with his hands, his mind, and his heart.

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From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

Janis in 2010, and in 2015

Two years ago we featured the story of Janis Kemper, our co-owner and physical therapist here at Northern. For many personal reasons Janis began a weight loss journey that left her 80 pounds lighter and feeling better than ever. No one knows better than Janis that weight loss is hard. The post we did two years ago remains one of our top visited pages every month so we wanted to do a follow-up with Janis to share the joys and struggles she’s had in maintaining her weight.

November 7, 2011 was the day my life changed. I vowed to say goodbye to bad habits, goodbye to overindulgence, and goodbye to part of myself. While none of it has been easy, it has been worth it, and for the most part I feel I’ve done a pretty good job in making and following through with certain lifestyle changes. I’ve continued to exercise six days a week and I make sure this gets done by scheduling my workouts into my calendar because as everyone knows, if it’s not in the calendar it’s not getting done! It is very rare for me to cancel or change an appointment with someone else, so I treat my exercise as an appointment with myself. Sure, life happens and sometimes my daily schedule gets messed up so in order to keep excuses at bay I keep a change of clothes and my bathing suit in my car so if there is a change of plans I can accommodate accordingly and still make it to the gym or pool.

So has it been easy?
The answer to that one’s easy…absolutely not! So often I get tired of journaling my food, preparing healthy meals, and reading labels. You’d think after all this time it would be second nature, and sometimes it is, but I still tire of it. Then I think, “I’m sure a person with MS or Diabetes gets tired of doing the things they need to do in order to control their disease,” and that helps me to realize that even though it does suck that I have to focus and work at keeping at a healthy weight, it really isn’t much different than the millions who have to manage their chronic diseases as well. *In 2013, the AMA recognized obesity as a disease.

In many ways 2015 was a really rough year for me. In a span of just a few months I had several stressful life events occur. My husband and I became empty nesters, our parents had medical issues that required a lot of our time, two of our beloved dogs died, etc…you get the idea. The way I chose to cope with this stress was with food. I resorted to some of my old bad habits and in the moment, the food did soothe me, as it always had. But then the vicious cycle began – guilt, shame, etc. I’m sure it feels the same as if a smoker gave up cigarettes and then caved and began smoking again. I was left feeling very out of control. I knew deep down I didn’t want to regain weight, but I was in denial for a while and chose to not weigh myself. When I finally got the courage to step on the scale I found that I had gained 25 pounds. This was weight that I had kept off for the past 2+ years! To say I felt devastated would be an understatement. I knew I had to get back to square one or all my hard work would have been for nothing.
Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

Janis’ business partner, Gina Otterbein, has supported and cheered for Janis along the way

Staying on track when it’s easier not to
I started out by writing down all the reasons I want to maintain a healthy weight. I got back to my support group. Then I decided to journal my food (which is the number one tool to successfully keep a healthy weight). As a result I cut my calories and have learned that because I want to cope with life’s stresses in healthy ways, food is not the best option for me. I’m sure I will occasionally turn to food in times of good and bad, but I don’t like the feeling of being out of control with my eating, so if I slip up one day, the next day I’m going to get back on track.

I also recently began putting time in my calendar for meal preparation, grocery shopping (while reading labels), and food journaling. These are tools that work for me – but they only work if I use them. Weight loss is a very personal struggle. The message I hope others get from my story is that it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others. Just because someone else is thinner than I am, doesn’t mean they had an easier road. Everyone is coping with their own struggles. It can also be incredibly intimidating to go to a gym or fitness center when you’re overweight. But you have to remember that no matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.
Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

Our Wayland team adores Janis and are thrilled for all she’s accomplished


Educating Others

Looking back on my successes and setbacks over the last two years I can see that part of the reason I was called to change my life was so that I could educate and share my experiences with others. When I first started to lose weight I used to dread going to the gym. Fast forward to today and I’m now in the position where I can, and have, led a few fitness classes here at Northern. It’s an exhilarating feeling, knowing where I started. I also never waste an opportunity to work with patients on the physical therapy side who struggle with weight themselves. Oftentimes they find exercise to be painful but what I want them to know is that there is an appropriate and pain free way to work out, no matter your weight, and a physical therapist can show you how. The more people I can share that message with, the better. Through learning the appropriate way to exercise, learning what’s right for your body, overcoming pain and injury, and potentially working with our personal trainers, anyone can be on the road to a healthier lifestyle.


The next chapter

I’ve come to the conclusion that my weight is something that will be in the back of my mind for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t have to control me. I’ve set myself up with the tools that work best for me and I understand the rewards that come with using them. I encourage everyone who is struggling to take the first step, literally. It’s a long road, but the destination is wonderful.

Learn More
Janis will be a featured guest on WZZM’s My West Michigan with Catherine Behrendt on March 21. Tune in at 9am.
Janis will also be the guest speaker at the next Weight Loss Support Group at our Grant clinic on March 29.

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Janis Kemper’s Weight Loss Follow Up, 2 Years Later

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Allendale > 6173 Lake Michigan Dr.
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